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Book Review: The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin



The Dichotomy of Leadership was written by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin in 2018. It is a continuation of their first book, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win. Much of the second book is repetitive information of the first book. This does help keep their principles fresh in your mind, especially if there was a long lapse in time between reading both books. Reading the information twice also helped me retain the information better. The book is a great balance of interesting combat stories, then an example of how they have applied each principle to a real world company they were consulting for and how the principles apply to the everyday business world.


Even with recapping the first book, their is still quite a bit of new information in this book. The biggest thing that stuck with me was their principle of balance. Know when to lead and when to follow, Don't tell your team how to accomplish the mission. By letting them decide how to complete the mission, it will increase their problem solving skills which will come in handy if they have to take over for their leadership. This will also build confidence and bring a new perspective to the table and possibly think of a better way to accomplish the mission then what you might have tasked them with.


They also talk about how a leader should balance leniency and when to hold their line. The most important thing a leader needs to do with this, is too explain the importance and the reasoning of each task. This will help the followers better prioritize which tasks are more important and prioritize which jobs are going to get done first if the mission plan falls apart or the leadership is not present. It is also important to explain what effects of failing a certain mission might have on the overall mission of the team or company. This will also increase the integrity of the tasks getting taken care of. If the followers do not understand the importance of a task or why it needs to be done, then when leadership is not around the followers may cut corners, do things differently, or even not complete the task in time if they do not understand the importance and effect that the task has on the overall mission.


Also, in talking about this, Leif and Jocko talk about something called Leadership Capital. A leader only has so much authority to spend and should choose how they spend it wisely. Instead of micro-managing and hammering away on teammates over the less important stuff. Save your leadership capital for the more important orders, so the team will take those orders more seriously.


I found this book to be just as good of a read as their first book and I would definitely recommend reading this one just as much as the first book. This is just a broad overview of some information the book has to offer. There are actually quite a few principles this book introduces and explains well between applying it to the military, business life, and they have real world examples of a business for each specific principle.

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